Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Add new tag

“American Idol” Rock Week Rocks the House

Last week, Adam Lambert was announced as being in the bottom three. How did this happen? Beats the hell out of me. He was nothing short of brilliant on May 5 (Cinquo de Mayo) singing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta’ Love.” His duet with Allison Irahita on “Slow Ride” was exceptional, as well, and Allison’s rendition of “Cry, Cry Baby” (Janis Joplin) was gutsy and great.

Kris Allen and Danny Gokey, by contrast, were just too soft and twinky, as they are not rockers, but more crooners or ballad singers. This was the first week that Danny Gokey might need to fear the bottom of the barrel. His excruciatingly high ending note on the song he chose (“Dream On”) caused Simon to say, “That last note was like watching a horror movie. A little over the top. With Adam, it worked. With you, it didn’t work tonight.”

If there is any justice, Danny will get to experience the bottom of the barrel that he has, heretofore, escaped. Yes, American likes him. Initially, I thought the final would be a mano-a-mano duel between Danny and Adam, but last week’s close call for Adam, plus Allison’s growing self-confidence onstage could spell a finale that features Adam and Allison not dueting, but squaring off against one another for the Grand Prize.  Or not. Danny still has massive numbers of fans and the backstory of his recent status as a widower, and Allison still does not have the most riveting personality of the quartet, but the girl can sing. She has the pipes and, I suspect, the most on-air experience of the four, after Adam. (Check her out on YouTube).

The fact that this isn’t turning out to be a Grand Slam for Adam and Danny is interesting and a pleasant surprise. Stay tuned for Wednesday night’s results, which could be surprising. Or not. My prediction, as before: Kris goes back to Conway, Arkansas. He’s a nice guy, a cute guy, a crooner, but does he have the staying power to make it to the Top Two? My guess: no.

Fort El Reno Ghost Tour in the Oklahoma Cold

el-reno-013The Fort El Reno “Ghost Tour” on November 15th (in El Reno, Oklahoma) went off without a hitch. My hosts, Bob Warren and Jessica Wells, couldn’t have been more helpful or gracious. Bob Warren looks like Richard Farnsworth, the character actor, complete with a Stetson hat, cowboy boots, a craggy visage and star appeal. Jessica, who led the section of the cemetery ghost tour I was on, was very knowledgeable about the many haunted sites and why they may have become  haunted. The fort is big, with over 1,675 acres and we toured (on foot) from 6 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Some of the hauntings had to do with the Major (Konat) who shot himself in the green-tiled upstairs bathroom (in the tub, no less) in the 1930s after his wife left him. Some had to do with Indians imprisoned unjustly. Some are still just mysteries. [Perhaps they will appear in additional “Ghostly Tales of Route 66”?]

We drove from Oklahoma City to El Reno and found  the Fort during daylight hours, which is a ways from town. We journeyed into town to have one of their famous onion hamburgers (Johnnie’s or one of 2 others), first. Every year, they build the World’s Largest Hamburger, with the help of the fire department and 3 local restaurants. (They hold the Guinness Book of World Records for this.)

Fort Reno was established to protect the Darlington Agency during the Cheyenne uprising of 1874.  The Indian agent, John D. Miles, assisted Captain Winter in the selection of the site of the military post named in honor of Major General Jesse L. Reno (not to be confused with a different Reno who served with Custer.) It was an Indian Wars Fort but is not an enclosed fort. Seminole and Creek Indians helped to control things between the Southern Cheyenne, the Northern Cheyenne and the Arapahoe, who did not always get along.

Fort El Reno served the country as a remount depot for the military from 1908 through 1947. Those stationed at Fort El Reno, including the so-called Buffalo (black) soldiers, helped escort cattle drives and made sure that money was paid as it should be. Although the first commandant of the fort, an older Quaker gentleman, was very fair, his successor cheated the Indians and caused problems with his corrupt behavior.

During the Land Run of 1889 in Oklahoma, those seeking a claim could stay for free on the fort’s grounds, while they would have had to pay money to stay on tribal lands. Horses were bred and trained there and served the military. The Fort served as a social hub, hosting polo matches, horse races and jumping competitions. Celebrities like Amelia Earhart visited, landing her Autogyrator (a cross between a plane and a helicopter) here. It was, generally speaking, a country club atmosphere.

One of the most interesting uses for the Fort was during WWII, when it housed 1,335 prisoners who were part of Rommel’s forces in North Africa and captured there.  The prisoners were mostly German, Italian (and 2 Russians who served with the Italians). They worked for eighty cents a day on neighboring farmlands and also built  chapel, to thank their captors for their good treatment. Many befriended the locals. One poor fellow (Hans Seifert) who was a POW was to be released in just 6 days when he accidentally set fire to himself while lighting a natural gas stove. He died and is buried in the fort’s cemetery, along with about 35 other POW’s.

Today, the Fort is a grazing lands research laboratory, designing feed for cattle and sheep, with many colleges (OSU, etc.) involved. For example, after the tsunami in Thailand, that country’s officials wanted advice on what plants they could use to help with the contamination after the storm.

The Visitors’ Center, which was built in 1936, was extensively renovated in 2005 (the first building burned).  Most of the buildings on the site of Fort El Reno are reputed to be haunted, and, this night, there were paranormal investigators and fort employees who would lead us on a five-hour trek around the grounds in freezing weather, holding lanterns.

I took a picture at one building that seemed to show something unusual, and had the experience of being tapped on the right shoulder 3 times, with no one acknowledging that they had done the “tapping.” (This was as we were entering to begin the tour.) Now, when people ask me if I’ve ever encountered anything “ghostly” (as they did in St. Louis at the First Annual Route 66 Festival) I will have the story of Fort El Reno’s Ghost Tour to tell and a picture that is puzzling.( It appears to show a woman, clad only in brassiere or bikini (Didn’t know they wore bikinis in the 1800s).

This ghost tour, taking place as it did on November 15th, was the last of this year. They will not resume until March and there is usually a waiting list and 3 to 4 groups of 20 go off at $6 a head, all of which goes to the fort’s upkeep. We flew from Chicago to take part, and I wore my Chicago heavy winter coat, but my husband packed shorts and kept telling me how warm it would be. (He ended up in the car with the motor running during the final cemetery portion of the trek.)

Onward to Amarillo, where we’ll visit the Cadillac Ranch, where vintage Cadillacs with big fins are buried with their tail-fins in the air and visitors are encouraged to spray paint them.

Link to Post-Flood Clean-Up Photos

Now that Cedar Rapids has been inundated, check out what it did to their YMCA by “linking” to the link posted here.

YMCA Downtown site

Flooded Midwest Gets No Relief

My last post detailed how the flooding of the Cedar and Iowa Rivers had inundated the towns of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. My alma mater, the University of Iowa, was hard pressed to keep the Arts Campus, as it is known, dry, and close to 20 buildings took on water, including Hancher Auditorium, which had water up to the stage, I am told. The Union, the English-Philosophy Building, the Journalism Building, Mayflower Residence Hall…all were hard hit. As my daughter lived in Mayflower Hall her freshman year of college, I can imagine that the flood will not have treated the residence hall kindly.

Now, however, the flood is moving to other parts of the state: Burlington, Keokuk, Oakille, and into Illinois. Finally, Governor Rod Blagovich got around to surveying some of the flood damage, well behind Chet Culver of Iowa and….the very last guy who will be coming….tomorrow, to Cedar Rapids, they say, is our own beloved fearless leader George “W” Bush. Yes, the very same “heckuva job, Brownie” Bush who has been touring France and the rest of Europe on his “farewell tour.”

I can hardly wait to hear good old George’s impressions of pigs stranded on a roof and other such unusual flood sights. He’ll probably pose with some of the locals like he did during Katrina and then disappear forever.

Meanwhile, crops are ruined at a time when the economy is struggling under the cost(s) of $4+ gasoline, and the long trek to cross Iowa (Interstate 80, the main east-west thoroughfare was closed until recently) added an additional 110 miles to the trek.

The recession George denied we were in has now been confirmed, the farmers are hurting (along with a lot of other sectors of the economy) and we can all look forward to much much higher prices for food, after this flood devastates the nation’s breadbasket.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén